New York’s Dead Rabbit cocktail bar has won just about every conceivable award for its impressive list of inventive drinks. But the thing that I order every time I visit is an Irish Coffee.
While that might sound like blasphemy given that the concoction is usually the worst thing you can order in a bar, at the Dead Rabbit it’s taken to another level. The establishment’s owners and founders Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon have spent countless hours perfecting their recipe, which is pretty amazing given that it is made of just four ingredients: Irish whiskey, sugar syrup, coffee and whipped cream.
So what makes their version so good? McGarry and Muldoon swear by coffee made from beans grown in Sumatra as the base of the drink. Even if you don’t have that particular type of bean on hand, you’ll want to make a good pot of coffee. (I like using a big French press with beans that are rich but not too bitter.)
Another big difference between terrible Irish coffee and delicious Irish coffee is the ratio of the ingredients. The Dead Rabbit’s current recipe calls for only an ounce of Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey. Contrary to popular belief the drink shouldn’t be too boozy. You want the whiskey to be balanced by the coffee and sweetness and not overwhelm the drinker. You’re supposed to be able to have a couple and still be able to stand up. (If you’re using a different Irish whiskey you may want to tweak the recipe slightly.)
The amount of coffee is also extremely important. The Dead Rabbit uses a modest three-and-a-quarter ounces of coffee. It’s sweetened with about half an ounce of demerara sugar syrup. (It’s equal parts water and demerara sugar heated up together and then cooled.) You can also use brown sugar if you can’t find demerara. There aren’t too many craft cocktails that require fresh whipped cream but the effort of doing it yourself is definitely worth it.
I suggest making a big batch of cream and coffee since your friends and family will no doubt want a refill. Cheers!
By Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon
- 1 oz Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey
- .625 oz Rich Demerara Sugar Syrup (2 parts sugar, 1 part water)
- 3.25 oz Sumatra coffee
- Garnish: Fresh whipped cream & nutmeg
- Glass: 6-ounce glass
Pour the coffee and sugar syrup into a glass leaving about half an inch of room for cream. Garnish with freshly whipped cream and a dusting of grated nutmeg.